In another article in our series, we have a look at what makes the Hertfordshire outfit tick
Watford Joggers’ motto is “serious about running but not a serious running club” and it had its origins when the jogging boom hit the UK in the early 1970s.
At Watford Harriers, Jack Harris tried to form a jogging section, but after several months of press advertising and patiently waiting for the masses to appear, he gave up the struggle. The only person to join him was Derek Greggains, who later became a Watford Jogger. Following the failure of the Harriers to excite the populous to jog, Harvey Jaquest and Alan Flint met for dinner and the idea of Watford Joggers was conceived.
The inaugural jog took place from the Gade Avenue car park, Cassiobury Park, on a Sunday in November 1976.
Jaquest race-walked and Flint jogged with a group of about 20, who reached the hill leading up the park past the paddling pool.
At that stage they walked to the top of the hill and jogged to the tea pavilion before crossing the park and gently jogging back to the car park – the newly formed club came alive that day after an initial session that lasted around one mile in total!
In those early days the club’s base was the Gade Avenue car park in Cassiobury Park where they met at 11am on Sundays and during that first winter it was their only meeting. The following spring they introduced Wednesday evening runs.
There soon followed two significant changes in the newly found Joggers routine. Firstly, it was decided that they should meet on a Sunday at 9.30am and the other positive move was that on a Wednesday evening they would share facilities at the Sun Sports Club, which Watford Harriers were using.
This arrangement continued until the Harriers moved to the Rolls Royce Sports Club in Leavesden and then in 2012 the Joggers moved to the West Herts Sports Club in Watford.
Despite the membership at the time being only around 40-50, Watford Joggers became a force to be reckoned with in races and fun runs against the country’s jogging clubs.
The club were runners-up for several years in the Sunday Times Hyde Park Fun Runs and on more than one occasion lifted the Burnham Joggers Relay Trophy.
The launch of the London Marathon in 1981 was the next major landmark and in that first run the club had one competitor, David Thawlis. More significantly, the club manned the 24-mile feeding station to care for the welfare of the 8000 runners.
The Joggers have now made that 100m stretch on the Embankment near Temple Station their own territory for seven hours once a year.
Watford Joggers have remained an all-ability club and in addition to the strong jogging and running sections also have a band of regular walkers and race walkers.
The club now has three regular training sessions. On Wednesday evenings walkers and joggers go at up to 7:30 mile pace for around 5-9 miles on pre-planned routes, including off-road in the summer.
Saturday morning intervals are one-hour sessions and include sprints, hills or other stamina type work.
On Sunday morning longer and slower runs for various abilities building up to marathon training take place.
The club, although not as high-profile as many of the harrier organisations, nevertheless has its own standards as incentives for the membership to improve – the “Watford Joggers Beechnut” standards, which are based on a runner’s best four performances from a selection of eight distances plus one league or championship cross country, and the “Motiv-8” award for anyone who simply completes the eight distances irrespective of time.
The aim of the former is to give each runner, regardless of ability, the motivation and focus to train for a specific goal. A full range of race distances that count towards the scheme range from one mile up to the marathon.
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